If you're working in HR or are a business owner, you are probably instinctively aware that a stressed and unhealthy workforce isn't good for your enterprise. But have you ever tried to quantify exactly how much it could be costing your company in terms of absenteeism, lower productivity, and employee turnover?
Stress, for example, can lead to sleep loss, anxiety and depression, which not only reduces focus at work, but can also be a health and safety issue. One academic study found a strong correlation between higher personal and work stress, lower influence over work environment, lower financial reward and worse performance on the job.
Severe stress can also have huge impact on the average worker's attendance rate. NHS data shows that 31% of all sick notes written by GPs in the UK between December 2014 and March 2017 were for mental health and behavioural conditions. Of these, one in five signed workers off for more than 12 weeks. There was a 14% increase in notes for workers suffering with anxiety and stress between 2015-16 and 2017-17.
As well as job-related stress, financial stress can also be a real drag on employees' performance. Neyber's 'The DNA of Financial Wellbeing' report 2017 found that money worries were the top concern for UK employees, especially under 55s, with 58% of UK employees saying they suffered mental and physical affects as a result. This was a reduction from the 70% recorded the previous year, but shows there is still a way to go.
As well as preventing some of these negative effects, wellbeing programmes can bring a lot of positive benefits both to individuals and organisations. Research from Deloitte suggests that, far from being a 'fluffy concept', wellbeing programmes make employees healthier, and the business benefits from better staff retention and engagement, more creativity, innovation and output.
Companies are starting to realise this, with 86% of those surveyed by Deloitte recognising wellbeing as a driver of productivity, but they are dragging their feet when it comes to action: 59% of organisations are not working on wellbeing at all or only offer basic programmes. The most common initiative they bring in is flexible working.
The ones that are doing nothing could be missing out. The return on investment from wellbeing initiatives could be substantial, with a big impact on the bottom line, Deloitte's report suggests.
What does a wellbeing initiative look like? They can focus on personal aspects, including things like fitness, nutrition and counselling, or they can focus more on the workplace, including career development, work/life balance and rewards and incentives. Work content is also important, with a focus on workload and pace of work, for example.
Employers are also increasingly aware of financial issues facing their staff, thinking of ways to foster a savings culture, and lessen the impact of fluctuating income on day to day financial management. With the right initiatives, employers can build their workers' financial literacy and confidence, and reduce financial exclusion.
Practical help employers can offer includes better benefits packages, savings schemes, financial support through an employee assistance programme, or affordable loans.
To learn more about how you can make your workforce happier and more engaged, click here to download Neyber's SME employment engagement handbook. You can also visit our SME homepage to discover more resources.